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Wednesday, 18 November 1959


Mr LUCHETTI (Macquarie) .- 1 do not share the optimism of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron). During the discussion on clause 10, the Attorney-General was asked a number of specific questions. In my opinion, he has not replied to them. He has not indicated what part the local marriage guidance organization, the counsellor, the padre, the priest, the local minister or the local Salvation Army captain will play in the future in dealing with these problems. The Attorney-General, in his secondreading speech, seemed to have an entirely different view of the work and worth of existing marriage guidance organizations from the view indicated by his amendment. He now suggests that these organizations and the people associated with them should devote the major part of their time to marriage guidance. Let us again refer to the earlier statement of the AttorneyGeneral. In his second-reading speech, he said -

I have been most impressed in what I have read and by those with whom I have taken the trouble to speak by the efforts in this direction of the marriage guidance organizations. I am sure they have already in this country saved many marriages from breaking down. I think they should be supported. The Government has decided that these voluntary and independent organizations should be encouraged and subsidized. Consequently, in this bill provision is made to approve marriage guidance organizations and to subsidize them, exercising for that purpose some limited supervision of their activities.

He has now declared that this must be a full-time job; it is the job of the specialist. The voluntary workers who performed the outstanding services to which the AttorneyGeneral referred in introducing the bill apparently now will not measure up to the specifications required by the amendment. I think that is to be deplored. However expert or professional people may be, no one is better fitted to advise on marriage problems than men of religion who, in the first instance, may have performed the wedding ceremony.

I think that the local minister or priest, to whom a couple go for the wedding ceremony, would be the ideal person with whom to discuss marriage problems and from whom to seek advice, guidance and assistance. The local minister of religion performs many duties and we all know how over-worked these men are in the various parishes. Consequently, they could not devote the major part of their time to marriage guidance.

Let us think of the minister in a country parish. He performs all kinds of duties, including christenings, marriages and funeral ceremonies. He is interested in local social service organizations and younger set activities plus other Church works too numerous to mention. Under the proposed amendment it would seem that that clergymen would not be qualified to play his part in marriage guidance. That is to be deplored.

Again I direct attention to the great problems that will exist in country centres. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) pointed to the high illegitimacy rate in the Northern Territory and the low illegitimacy rate in the Australian Capital Territory. The situation in the Northern Territory is brought about by reason of its vast, sparsely populated areas and lack of normal amenities that would be available in more populous areas.

I suggest to the Attorney-General that greater consideration should be given to this matter. I am not happy with his proposed amendment. I think that the clause as originally drafted is superior to the proposed amendment. I agree with what the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) said about the need for marriage guidance. There are certain basic reasons why marriages break up and it would be extremely difficult for marriage guidance councils to deal with these problems. The Attorney-General has circulated a graph of the divorce rate indicating how the rate rose rather rapidly from 1938 to 1947. That was the period of the Second World War when the world was convulsed. In this country men were in the services and women were seeking employment to aid the national effort. In that disturbing state of affairs home life was disrupted and in 1947 almost every State had a record divorce rate. That indicates quite clearly that material factors do play a most important part in marriage and if marriage guidance is to have any real impact, then side by side with marriage guidance the Government must stir itself to provide housing, and the amenities and services necessary to meet the needs of the people.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 11 to 13 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.

Clauses 14 to 17 - by leave - taken together.







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